There was once a mother who was trying to wake up her son. She said to him "My son, wake up quickly — you'll be late for school!" The son turned to the mother and, still half asleep, said: "Give me one good reason why I should wake up? There are 500 students in school and they all hate me. There are three dozen teachers who all resent the fact that I come each morning."

"I'll give you two good reasons," the mother responded. "You are 44 years old, and you're the principal!"

Children, too, may find it difficult sometimes to go to school. They look for any excuse under the sun. If we are not prepared for this, we may end up with a confrontation leading to an unpleasant experience. They may say things like "I hate school. I hate my teachers. I want a break for a day. I feel sick." It may be true, or they may simply not want to go to school.

The quality of the school and the kind of environment it creates for its students is basically in the hands of the teachers and administration. Nevertheless, there is much we can do, as parents, to make our children's schooling experience a more pleasant one.

Some of them are:

1) Educate yourself. When our children see us involved in adult education programs, or simply doing some studying and self-education in our free time at home, this will set an example that learning is important.

2) Show respect to the school and its staff when speaking to them or about them. A child who hears his parent criticizing his or her teacher, or making derogatory remarks about his or her school, can hardly be expected to have a positive attitude themselves.

3) Ask your child to share one pleasant and one unpleasant experience they had in school — the lesson being that life is a combination of pleasant and unpleasant experiences.

4) Asking the child, "What new things did you learn in school today?" The child will then feel that s/he is growing and progressing.

5) Help your child's school, through fundraising and other activities. This shows the child that the school is important to you, too.

6) Attend all parent/teacher meeting. A teacher once asked me, "Why is it that the very parents whom I desperately need to speak with, because their children are facing problems and their input is needed, don't show up at meetings? On the other hand, those parents whose children are doing fine, come along to every parent/teacher night and every school function." My response was that her question was in fact the answer. Perhaps the reason those children are facing difficulties is that their parents don't care enough to be involved in their schooling. And perhaps the other parents are not so urgently needed at the meetings precisely because they come to them!

7) Allow your the child to have a day off from school on rare occasions, to spend quality time with a parent or simply to have a short break.

8) Associate going to school with getting a treat, such as a snack or some pocket money to spend at the school canteen.

9) Put a surprise note in the child's lunch box saying "I love you".

10) If you are the one who transports your children to and from the school, try to bring them a few minutes early. This will give them some time to play with their friends and get into "school mode" before they actually start the school day. Don't bring them late — save them the embarrassment and the consequences associated with lateness. And make sure they can count on you being on time to pick them up.

These are only a few ideas, and I am sure that with creative thinking every parent can come up with some more. The key is parental example and involvement, and the creation of positive associations with the schooling experience for your child.

There is an ancient Jewish custom that when a child starts studying the Hebrew alphabet, we throw candies at him and put some honey on some letters and get the child to lick it. The reason for this is to create a sweet anchor and a positive association with learning.

Try it — it works!